Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’
I’m concerned, however, that greenwashing may be distracting marketing executives and educators from an even more distressing matter: The vast number of companies, large and small, that even today don’t give lip service to green or sustainable products or practices. They don’t pretend to be sustainable, don’t promise to become sustainable, don’t understand what it means to be sustainable and, frankly, don’t appear to care.
The marketing and advertising of these companies remain what they’ve always been: attempts to promote and sell products and services, without a hint of green gloss. They stress the usual customer benefits: greater value, quality, innovation, convenience, luxury, responsiveness, ROI and the like. But they make no claims to be more earth-friendly, socially responsible or otherwise green or sustainable. These businesses continue to do what they’ve always done, with no obvious regard or accountability for the environmental or social impact of their actions now or across future generations, except perhaps as required by law, rule or regulation.
I don’t know what percentage of businesses are making concerted efforts to become far more sustainable. I’d wager it’s a small minority. One reason the media features companies that embrace sustainability is they are the exceptions. If every company was going green, there would be no story. And one reason businesses tout the “greenness” of their products or practices (sometimes resorting to greenwashing) is they see a competitive or “first mover” advantage. Again, if all companies produced sustainable goods or services, that advantage disappears.
The point is too few businesses are serious about sustainability today. And that should have brand managers, PR counselors, ad execs, social media mavens and all other marketers up in arms.
I don’t want to minimize the seriousness of greenwashing — no company should be allowed an advantage through false or deceptive marketing. But who should worry us more:
- The few unethical companies (and their marketers) trying to pull the green wool over our eyes? Or…
- The many businesses making truthful, “non-green” claims that contribute to excessive or inequitable consumption and their inevitable byproducts: natural resource depletion, ecological damage, climate change, poverty?
Marketers committed to sustainability have a perfect opportunity in this worsening recession to drive home a critical point among their not-so-green peers: It’s time to examine the very role of marketers in fueling unsustainable economies and ways of living. Or stated more positively, how marketers can get on the right side of sustainability.
Ridding the world of greenwashing would be welcomed progress. Harnessing the creative and persuasive talents of every marketer on behalf of a sustainable world would be nothing short of awesome.